The Rebbe's Yahrtzeit
A Call to World Jewry from Israeli Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger

This Tuesday, the Third of Tammuz, 5764 (June 22, 2004) marks a decade since the passing of the Mentor and Teacher of Israel, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Revered by the masses and known simply as the "The Rebbe," he led a broken and shattered people from the despair of the Holocaust toward a new and bright future. Inspired by his ever-optimistic leadership, a downtrodden and insular Jewish community became a powerful and potent force, radiating life and a growing energy, a society that hundreds and thousands of Jews — however far they may stray - can always turn to and call "home."

The Rebbe was an unparalleled genius in all areas of Torah, a revolutionary thinker who uncovered new vistas in Jewish thought, a leader whose counsel was eagerly sought by thousands and with whom world leaders regularly consulted, a visionary whose broad worldview was practically prophetic in nature.

But, above all, the Rebbe loved the People of Israel. It is the signature of his leadership and the enduring hallmark of the students who follow in his footsteps: genuine, boundless and unconditional love to each and every one of our brethren. From the rabbi and the community leader to the simple layman, from the elder venerable Chassid to the young child with hand outstretched to receive a coin for charity, from the captain of industry to the woman who came to pour her heart out in sorrow.

Tirelessly and selflessly, the Rebbe dedicated his most precious commodity, his time, to the welfare of his fellow, remote and lonely as he or she may be. Hours on end the Rebbe stood to greet the many who sought his guidance and blessing. From his modest dwelling in Brooklyn, New York, his reach extended to the far-flung corners of the globe. Thousands of shuls, mikvahs, yeshivas, schools and outreach centers have been created around the world — not for the benefit of his own Chassidim, but for the benefit of all Jews.

Indeed then, he was not simply the Rebbe of Lubavitch; he was the Rebbe of Klal Yisrael.

The flourishing success of other groups, not only among Chassidic circles but even the broader Yeshiva world and the Jewish community at large, is in large measure due to the Rebbe and his trailblazing efforts to establish, sustain and broaden Jewish life wherever it may be.

The Rebbe's passing left us all orphans. We are orphaned of an extraordinary father figure, orphaned of a teacher and promulgator of Torah on a scale unparalleled in the annals of history, orphaned of the venerated captain of our nation's ship which he guided toward safe shores.

As we approach the tenth yahrtzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, may his merit shield us, we call upon all Jews to mark this important day in synagogues, yeshivas and communal centers in communities across the globe. We need to express our appreciation for the Rebbe's outstanding efforts on behalf of Klal Yisrael and channel that gratitude into collectively and individually rededicating ourselves to the path of Torah and Judaism. Most specifically, we must focus on strengthening ourselves in the fundamental tenet of our Peoplehood, that of Ahavat Yisrael, the eternal legacy of the Rebbe.

We are confident that the Rebbe's spirit rests yet upon us, and from his place among the souls On High, he will continue to lead his Chassidim and Klal Yisrael on the path toward the redemption of all of mankind, with the coming of Moshiach.

Rabbi Yonah Metzger